John Beddoes School: Bell ringing tradition used in protest

Image caption,
Benji Kirkpatrick from folk band Bellowhead has a son at the school

A week-long bell-ringing protest is being staged in support of a struggling Powys school.

John Beddoes School in Presteigne could shut this year and reopen as a campus of Newtown High School 33 miles away.

The school is named after the wool merchant who founded it in 1565.

Inspired by Beddoes' instruction that a curfew bell be rung every night, the campaign began on Monday with 65 bell ringers making the 10 minute walk from St Andrew's Church to the high school.

About 40 people took part in the protest on Tuesday.

More than 100 bell ringers are expected to attend on Friday, when the John Beddoes curfew bell will also be rung too.

The bell-ringing protest is being organised by the Friends of John Beddoes School action group.

The group claims John Beddoes was a good school until about six years ago.

A spokeswoman said: "Newtown High School's head teacher has been helping our school since January and we welcome the support.

"The school has started to turn around but we don't want it taken over by Newtown.

"For one thing, Newtown is 33 miles away. We would not have our own head teacher or heads of subject and the school would be run by a board of governors in Newtown."

She added that John Beddoes was the second oldest endowed school in Wales.

Special measures

Consultation over the takeover plans, which would see Newtown and John Beddoes with one head teacher, started earlier this month and ends on 2 June.

An expanded Newtown High School would operate as a spilt-site campus with children aged between 11 and 16 educated in Presteigne.

Powys council has said John Beddoes' exam results in recent years have been poor and it is a band five ranked school, while pupil numbers have dwindled from 550 to 350 in five years.

In December it became the first high school in the county to be placed in special measures.

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